There are a number of common herbs we can grow for chickens for general health. Herbs can also be used to treat chooks for infestations of worms, lice and mites.
General poultry tonics and laying stimulants include, garlic, onion, chickweed dandelion, fennel, wormwood, rue, cleavers, cress, marigold, mint, vervain, comfrey, mullein roots, thyme, marjoram, sage, nasturtium, mugwort, goats rue, gotu kola and parsley.
Parasitic worms, body lice and mites are the most common problem of chickens.
A good preventative for worms is nettle. The nettles should be boiled and the liquid added to mash when cold.
Garlic is the best organic treatment for worms.
A cold extract can be made by putting several cloves of crushed garlic into half a cup of water overnight. It can be given to chickens individually by eyedropper or the extract can be put into the chooks drinking water for a week.
Herbs can also be used on a regular basis to treat worms.
Once a month leaves such as horseradish, garlic, wormwood, tansy, elder, santolina, rue hyssop, goats rue, can be mixed with onions, grated carrots, mustard and pumpkin seeds and then added to feed at a rate of about 20%.
Nasturtium leaves and seeds have antiseptic and medicinal properties and are also good wormers.
Lice and mites
Lice and mites are another common problem for poultry. Garlic again is suitable for these problems.
Artemisia’s such as southernwood, wormwood, mugwort and other insect repellant herbs like tansy and fennel, when grown near the chook pen can be used to control these external parasites. Other good insecticidal herbs are rosemary, catnip, feverfew, lavender and pennyroyal.
These can also be grown near the chook shed, so the chickens can brush past them or nibble on them.
These insect repelling herbs can also be cut fresh and strewn around the ground in the chook area or can be dried and added to feed.
When herbs are used as a food for chickens they will only eat what they need of these herbs.
Comfrey is rich in protein and is a very nutritious tonic food. It has high levels of potassium and calcium and is a good source of amino acids. If chickens are fed comfrey daily before their grain, they will have good health and produce eggs with golden yolks.
A common weed that grows during the cooler months of the year here in SEQld is chickweed. This is a favourite tonic green for chickens.
Feverfew is related to pyrethrum but is not as strong. It produces lots of flowers and self seeds readily. Flowers and leaves can be made into a tea and sprayed to control lice and mites.
Gota kola is a creeping plant that likes damp partially shaded areas. The leaves fed to chickens are a useful tonic. It can be used externally for skin conditions.
Nasturtiums are a good general herb for chickens. It has antiseptic and antibiotic properties and is a good wormer. It also helps to repel insects.
Nettles are a great tonic herb for poultry. High in a range of vitamins and minerals, they are a preventative against worms and can be dried and added to comfrey to stimulate egg laying.
This is just a few of the herbs that you can give to your chickens; there are many salad herbs that are quite safe to feed to your chooks.